Today we recognize how important support for families of alcoholics is, particularly support for children of alcoholic parents. Alcoholism affects the entire family, not just the alcoholic. The immediate family is affected the most, but the extended family can be affected as well.
Some of the ways alcoholism affects the family include:
These are just some of the ways alcoholism affects the family. You can see why support for families of alcoholics is so important. And alcoholism can affect children of alcoholic parents in even more ways.
Having an alcoholic parent has a tremendous affect on a child. We are only now beginning to understand all of the ways children of alcoholic parents are affected by their parent’s drinking.
In addition to the things listed above, some of the ways children of alcoholic parents are affected by their parent’s drinking include:
So it’s clear that families of alcoholics need support. But what kind of support is available?
Most drug and alcohol treatment programs, whether residential or outpatient, include a family component. The family component generally includes education about the disease of alcoholism and the addiction and recovery process as well as support for families of alcoholics.
However, if an alcoholic is not involved in a treatment program, there is still support available to his or her family. A wonderful support system for families of alcoholics is Al-Anon. Al-Anon is a 12-Step program modeled on the well-known program for alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous. It provides wonderful support for families of alcoholics.
At Al-Anon meetings, family members share experiences and talk about how they have dealt with the stress of living with an alcoholic. Al-Anon helps family members focus on their own behaviors and making positive changes, for instance, no longer lying to protect the alcoholic.
There are also support groups called Alateen for teens living with an alcoholic family member. These are similar to Al-Anon groups. Teens will respond well in a group setting.
There are no 12-Step groups providing support for young children. However, young children living with an alcoholic family member will also need support. Seeing a therapist who specializes in treating young children will be the best step for them.